Lord of the Beatles? Here’s What We Know About Peter Jackson’s Beatles Movie

Who are The Beatles? The chances are that no one has uttered that phrase for at least 50 years, but we’re here to help if you don’t know. The British band topped the charts throughout the 1960s, and they also were the subjects of dozens of iconic photos. They’re so popular that former members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr still household names. The group is so popular that their best songs remain among the best pop tunes of all time. They’re so popular that big-time Hollywood directors, such as Peter Jackson, are making movies about the band. Here’s what we know about Peter Jackson’s Beatles movie.

It’s focused on the Let It Be recording sessions

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New Film Project We are proud to announce an exciting new collaboration between The Beatles and the acclaimed Academy Award winning director Sir Peter Jackson​. The new film will be based around 55 hours of never-released footage of The Beatles in the studio, shot between January 2nd and January 31st, 1969. These studio sessions produced The Beatles’ Grammy Award winning album Let It Be, with its Academy Award winning title song. The album was eventually released 18 months later in May 1970, several months after the band had broken up. The filming was originally intended for a planned TV special, but organically turned into something completely different, climaxing with The Beatles’ legendary performance on the roof of Apple's Savile Row London office — which took place exactly 50 years ago today. Peter Jackson said, "The 55 hours of never-before-seen footage and 140 hours of audio made available to us, ensures this movie will be the ultimate ‘fly on the wall’ experience that Beatles fans have long dreamt about." “I was relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth,” continues Jackson, “it’s simply an amazing historical treasure-trove. Sure, there’s moments of drama – but none of the discord this project has long been associated with. Watching John, Paul, George, and Ringo work together, creating now-classic songs from scratch, is not only fascinating – it’s funny, uplifting and surprisingly intimate”. "I’m thrilled and honoured to have been entrusted with this remarkable footage – making the movie will be a sheer joy.”

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We found out about Peter Jackson’s Beatles movie when Deadline reported about it on January 30, 2019, but we already know a lot about it.

The film will focus on the Let It Be recording sessions from January 2-31 1969. Fans consider the album to be one of The Beatles’ worst recordings, but it was a dramatic time for the band. The members’ relationships were fraying, and the recording sessions were supposedly contentious, so it will probably make for some memorable cinema.

There is more than enough footage for a feature film

The one thing a filmmaker needs to make a movie is footage, and Jackson has plenty to choose from. The Let It Be recording sessions lasted less than a month, but there are 55 hours of video footage and 140 hours of audio to sort through. All that film and audio footage was supposed to be used for a TV special about The Beatles, but it never materialized.

No matter what fans and critics think of the finished product, Peter Jackson’s Beatles movie will most likely be extremely detailed.

The band is involved with the production

Paul McCartney thumbs up

Paul McCartney gives a thumbs up in 1980, just as he did to Peter Jackson’s Beatles movie in 2019. | Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

We’re not sure where Peter Jackson’s film will fit in with the best and worst movies about The Beatles, but it has one thing going for it — the band wants the project to succeed.

Surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr gave Jackson their blessing to make the movie. Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, the spouses of John Lennon and George Harrison, respectively, are cooperating with Jackson on the film.

Jackson can’t wait to dive in

Just as fans can’t wait to see the finished product, Peter Jackson’s Beatles movie is just as exciting for the director himself. His acclaimed World War I documentary They Shall Not Grow Old was a marvel, and chances are his film about The Beatles will be, too. Jackson has a lot of work to do, but he’s pumped up to start putting all the pieces together. He tells Deadline:

Peter Jackson's Beatles movie has hundreds of hours worth of material to work with.

Director Peter Jackson has a Beatles movie in the works. | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

“[T]his movie will be the ultimate ‘fly on the wall’ experience that Beatles fans have long dreamed about – it’s like a time machine transports us back to 1969, and we get to sit in the studio watching these four friends make great music together,” Jackson said. “After reviewing all the footage and audio that Michael Lindsay-Hogg shot 18 months before they broke up, it’s simply an amazing historical treasure-trove. Sure, there’s moments of drama – but none of the discord [Let It Be] has long been associated with. Watching John, Paul, George, and Ringo work together, creating now-classic songs from scratch, is not only fascinating – it’s funny, uplifting and surprisingly intimate. I’m thrilled and honored to have been entrusted with this remarkable footage – making the movie will be a sheer joy.”

When will it be released?

We know Peter Jackson’s Beatles movie has access to hundreds of hours of footage. We know he has the blessing of the surviving members of the band. And we know he’s excited about the project. The only thing we don’t know is when we’ll be able to sit down and watch it.

Jackson is producing two upcoming Tintin films (one of which he’ll direct), according to his IMDB page, and his Beatles movie doesn’t appear in his filmography yet. He has two choices. One, he’ll either have to pause work on the Tintin movies to complete his Beatles project. Or, two, he’ll have to Let It Be (see what we did there?) until he finishes the Tintin films.

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